Edmonton by Bicycle
By Amy Neufeld
I really began to understand Edmonton when I started cycling through it. About 4 years ago I adopted the bicycle as my primary, and favourite, mode of transportation. Now Edmonton is probably not known as the most cycle-friendly city out there, and it certainly poses difficulties, not the least of which are the long, dark winter months. I'm not as brave as many of my fellow Edmonton velophiles who ride through all seasons, and it's always a sad day for me when I lock up the bike and prepare for several months off the road. And even when the weather is good, vehicles here aren't always ready to accept their 2-wheeled friends as fellow travelers on the road. But despite the challenges, in my mind a bicycle is the best way to experience the city.
My daily route takes me north on 109 street, across the High Level Bridge, crossing Jasper avenue at 110 street, and straight through on the path to 104 avenue. My favourite moment is when I pass by the High Level Diner in the morning, and my olfactory senses are treated to a meal of fresh cinnamon buns and sizzling sausages. I've only got a brief moment to enjoy the fabulous smells, as my bike then takes me down the hill and onto the High Level Bridge.
There's a certain balance in my daily ride, because not long after I've experienced the bliss from the High Level Diner, I find myself in the stinkiest spot that I've encountered in Edmonton. While waiting for the light to change at 110 street and Jasper avenue, my nose picks up the distinct smell of an open sewer somewhere nearby. Thankfully I'm never at the intersection long enough to pinpoint the source of the odour, and as soon as the light turns green I peel my bike out of there, back in to the fresh air that I'm blessed to start every day with.
And that's the thing about Edmonton, indeed about all cities. There are definitely things that could change for the better here. Someone could find out why that particular sewer emits such a pungent smell and fix it. But the good on my ride far outweighs the bad. Besides the stolen smells from outside the High Level Diner, I have the incredible view of the river valley from the High Level Bridge to enjoy twice daily, as well as the fresh air, the friendly other pedestrian and cycling commuters, and a chance to experience Edmonton at the ground level, allowing me the opportunity to connect with the community that I don’t get in a car. Not a bad way to get around town.